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The personal and the factor distributions of income in a cross-section of countries

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The shares of capital and labour in national income vary substantially both over time and across countries. This paper shows that the factor distribution of income is an essential determinant of the personal distribution of income. We use cross-country and panel data for a group of developed and developing countries to show that a larger labour share is associated with a lower Gini coefficient of personal incomes. This effect is not only statistically significant but also economically important. An increase in the labour share in Mexico to that observed in the US would reduce the Gini coefficient of the former by between two and five points.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2007


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